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Hyped up: The Celebration Bowl playlist

Grambling and N.C. A&T players will be banging R&B, rap and hip-hop on game day

For LeBron James, it could be anything from GoldLink’s “Crew (Remix)” to SZA’s “Love Galore.” For Tyrann Mathieu, it was Lil Wayne’s “I’m a Go Getta.” For Michael Jordan, it was Anita Baker’s “Giving You the Best That I Got.”

An athlete’s pregame playlist is unique to the individual. A few songs overlap athletes, but for the most part, each player has his or her own specific playlist to get them in the zone. While getting psyched to rhythm and blues may seem a bit outlandish, it obviously worked, as evidenced by Jordan’s six championship rings.

With the Celebration Bowl set to kick off Saturday, we asked the student-athletes from North Carolina A&T and Grambling State what they’re listening to in preparation for the game. Here are 10 songs that players said are in their rotations.

Z-Ro – “Mo’ City Don (Freestyle)” (2005)

Sampling Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid in Full,” Z-Ro flexes his boss status in the way you would expect from a song titled “Mo’ City Don.” Lines such as I gotta be a man, hope you understand and like Tyson I keep hooking/Or maybe like Lenox, I’m strong to the finish will get you psyched and ready to take on the world.

Miguel – “Do You…” (2012)

The most surprising addition to the playlist came from Grambling senior running back Martez Carter. The allure of R&B on a pregame playlist is lost on some of us. Then again, who are we to question a back who accumulated more than 1,000 all-purpose yards for two straight seasons?

Chief Keef – “Faneto” (2014)

Chief Keef uses “faneto” in place of the Italian word finito, meaning finished. We don’t know what’s worse: the fact that only in writing this did we discover the meaning of “faneto” or Keef threatening to “blow New Jersey up” at the end of the first verse.

Future – “Thought It Was a Drought” (2015)

Remember how surprised everyone was when Lonzo Ball referred to Future as “real hip-hop?” We weren’t. Nothing gets athletes more hyped than Future asserting he just had sex with your chick in some Gucci flip-flops. The only surprise would be if Ball were the only one born after 1996 who thought the Atlanta native was the greatest of all time.

YFN Lucci – “Patience” (2015)

They always told me keep goin’ and your day will come. This is undeniably the anthem for any athlete who had to grind relentlessly for a starting spot.

21 Savage – “Skrrt Skrrt” (2016)

21 Savage may be the best artist to listen to before a football game. Why wouldn’t you want to listen to we pull up and murder and skirt before playing a sport reminiscent of the Roman gladiator games?

Gucci Mane featuring Offset – “Met Gala” (2017)

Metro Boomin should really get into scoring movies. Remember the scene in Juice when Q and Bishop are on the elevator? Imagine the beat dropping as Bishop shoots at Q. Are we the only ones who just got chills?

Tay-K – “The Race” (2017)

Why are hip-hop fans so infatuated with artists who commit the crimes they rap about? In this instance, “the race” refers to the three months Tay-K spent evading the authorities after being charged with capital murder. The song’s music video, which dropped the same day he was apprehended by U.S. marshals, has totaled almost 100 million views to date and even shows the 17-year-old lighting up in front of his wanted poster. While the song’s message might not be the best, there’s no denying how infectious the beat is.

Meek Mill featuring Young Thug – “We Ball” (2017)

In the realm of sports, almost all adversity can be handled with four words courtesy of Young Thug:

Lost your quarterback on the opening drive? F— it, we ball. Down 28-3 at halftime? F— it, we ball. Star player just got ejected? F— it, we ball.

Peewee Longway – “Rerocc” (2017)

Our pick for the most creative usage of Rob Base’s opening line in “It Takes Two” goes to Peewee Longway. In the 29 years since the initial release of “It Takes Two,” we’re just surprised that no one thought of using I wanna rock right now to reference cooking crack. Kudos to you, Mr. Longway.

C. Isaiah Smalls, II is a Rhoden Fellow and a graduate of Morehouse College from Lansing, Michigan. He studied Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies. He was Editor-in-Chief of The Maroon Tiger.

Miniya Shabazz is a Rhoden Fellow and a junior mass communication major from Laurel, MD. She attends Grambling State University and is a staff writer for The Gramblinite.

Donovan Dooley is a former Rhoden Fellow and a multimedia journalism major from Tuscaloosa, AL. He attends North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University.